Using Clean Energy to Create Steel
Australia can utilise its natural renewable energy resources—some of the world's best solar and wind—to create new manufacturing and minerals processing industries.
One such example of this is using renewable energy to generate hydrogen, which can then be used to create steel. A recently released Grattan Institute report found that manufacturing steel onshore would provide valuable replacement jobs for workers transitioning out of declining industries, like coal generation and mining, as 'green' steel production would be well suited to areas in NSW and Queensland.
The report found that if Australia gained just 6.5% of the global steel market it would create 25,000 ongoing manufacturing jobs in Queensland and NSW, and generate $65 billion in annual export revenue. This is a real possibility given Australia produces 38% of the world’s iron ore, which is used to make steel.
So, how do you make 'green' steel with renewable energy?
Traditionally, metallurgical coal is used to remove oxygen from iron ore to make steel. However, it's possible to use hydrogen instead of coal – a process which creates water as a byproduct rather than carbon dioxide.
To produce hydrogen, you need electricity to split water. That's where the renewable energy comes in: solar and wind is the cheapest new-build electricity generation. So by using Australia's impressive solar and wind resources, we can produce cheap electricity to create hydrogen, which then in turn can produce steel for export.
Currently, steel production is one of world's most polluting industries, but in Australia, we have an opportunity to create clean steel and generate thousands of long-term jobs in the process.
Want to see this industry and other renewable manufacturing industries kick-started in Queensland? Add your name to our open letter, calling on the State Government to support these new industries.